Spot the difference

Here’s a print idea created way back in the early 90’s at DMB&B for client Burger King.

As you can see, it’s a tongue-in-cheek topical piece we created on the day of the fire at Burger King Robinson Road to apologize for the restaurant closure. The premise was simple. While we know our loyal fans love our flame grilled flavours, occasionally we burn the food…

The client loved it. Too bad they didn’t have the money to run it. Nor did the agency.

Fast forward to today and here’s the same tongue in cheek approach using a series of fires at Burger King restaurants around the world to celebrate the chain’s heritage and point of difference.

BS_ItalyIt’s just picked up the Cannes Gold Lion in Print.

BK_BS_Oregon_Creativity01

What separates them?

BKburnout

Not the theme or the sentiment. Both use humour to celebrate Burger King’s flame grilled flavours. To create an opportunity. To tell their story.

The answer is 26 years.

Fran Luckin, Chief Creative Officer, Grey, South Africa and Print & Publishing Lions judge said DAVID’s Grand Prix-winning campaign was “playful, authentic, and (had) a sense of being a little more edgy. Embrace your imperfection. It was brave and young, created in a social media age.”

Which just goes to show that there’s no such thing as a new idea.

Just new ways to say it with more reach. Chapeau to Burger King and the David team for making it happen.

Blak Labs does jury duty…a reflection

As we head towards another festival of Asian Creativity at the Spikes, it’s timely to reflect on my experience as a Cannes juror this year.

Perhaps you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to write this after Cannes? Well, apart from the fact that I have a business to run, clients to tend to and Campaign asked me to write a little more, there is another reason. On the journey home, I remembered the words of Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB. He told me that “the high from Cannes lasts about 2 weeks before you’re back to normal.”

So how has my time back in Singapore been?

Following my stint on the Cyber Lions jury, I took a short break in post-Brexit England. Lunch with my mum and my sisters in the pub across the road. As we sat down to eat, I was peppered with questions. “Is Cannes important?”, “Who goes apart from you ad people?”, “Why on earth did you spend a week on the Cote d’Azur in a dark room?”

I tried my best to explain using the Jury’s two Grand Prix winners. While they seemed to appreciate the Pixar-level storytelling of ‘Justino’, they weren’t so sure about ‘The Next Rembrandt’.

But it was their real-time responses that sum up for me how most of the world views what we do. Before the end of each viewing, attention had turned to more important matters; “What was the other half of Britain thinking?” etc.

In the Cyber Lions category, we judged almost 3,000 entries of which around 20% were from this region, if we include Australia and New Zealand. We ended up with a shortlist of 230 pieces. Out of 91 metal, 8 Lions came back to Asia.

Campaign asked for my view on why Asia is under-represented in this category.

Before I get into that, you should know that I live in Singapore. My view is very much based on what I see from this cultural and commercial crossroad.

Is it representative of Asia? Hardly – much like my opinion.

Cannes is an English language-led festival. Asia is a wonderful mix of diverse cultures and peoples, all who speak languages other than English. Stories and concepts are expressed more clearly and in more nuanced fashion by local storytellers.

Do these ideas always travel well? No, but many could give themselves a better chance. One entry from China somehow made it through with a case study that must have been created with Google translate. I kid you not.

The point here IMHO is that there often isn’t the patience to let storytelling develop. “I want it yesterday” is SOP. Everything is urgent. With the result that very little is given the opportunity to be outstanding.

Upon my return to Singapore, I had to give a major presentation. Out of 20 attendees from the client side, about 70% of them were focussed on their smartphones. What were they doing? Checking stock prices? Facebook? Texting each other where to go for lunch? Search me… but their ‘attention’ certainly wasn’t on the presentation that defines their next two years worth of marketing. This is what I’ve begun to call AAD – Asian Attention Deficit.

Looking at the ideas that won, the jurors tried hard to award stuff that was truly outstanding.

We chose work that moved us with the power of a simple idea (Hello for NZ Road Safety). We awarded executions that brought people together and overcame the barriers of clunky tech (the VR of Field Trip to Mars, Giga Selfie). We celebrated those hacks for hope that turned a social platform on its head for a good cause (Manboobs, Check it before it’s removed).

The organisers gave us a book called “The Case for Creativity” by planner James Hurman. It’s a long-term study that links ‘imaginative marketing’ with commercial success. Keith Weed of Unilever and Jim Stengel of P&G both agree there is a link.

Even though the book is one long case study for entering Cannes, clients in the boardrooms all around the region would do well to heed its message. I too believe it is worth investing in the kind of thinking that delivers outstanding ideas first and seeing what happens next.

My view is that collectively, Asia needs to slow down and find the time to deliver. We need to find the time to avert AADD – Asian Attention Deficit Disasters. Because we have all the potential and the promise.

So has my own Cannes high survived the subsequent weeks back home? Am I back to normal yet?

Very much so. But with a clearer idea of what we can and should be doing to help our clients win. And no, it won’t be a crowd-sourced app that rewards those who go out of their way to save refugees.

Blak Labs does jury duty, the Grand Prix edition. 

Today is “Brexit” voting day in the UK. And after a week of jury deliberation, discussion and impassioned defences, we have just witnessed the effect our votes had on the winners of the 2016 Cannes Cyber Lions awards show. Before we get to the winners, let me take you back over the last couple days of being in the room.

Blak Labs Singapore in the company of inspirational Jury members during a break in our final Lions deliberations. L-R: Blak Labs Singapore, Ignacio from Google Argentina, Ravi from Whyness India, Fred from Mirum NYC, Chloe from RGA NYC, Bob from Host Sydney, Kris from Happiness Belgium.

Total number of entries reviewed. 2800. Total entries judged in Cannes: 1700. Final shortlist: originally 280. After a final prune: 230 if memory serves me correctly. http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/entries/cannes-lions/cyber/

Chloe gives some last minute advice before we head back in.

 

We can award three Grand Prix. But will we?

Of those that made it through, you have already achieved something truly significant. Your work beat some world class crud. Our final list of golds looks like this. Not nearly enough from Asia.

 

 

The game-changing Gold winners. I wish I’d done any one of them. 

And after one round of voting for the Grand Prix, we have eliminated all but two pieces of VR. We pause and take a moment to discuss what that outcome would say about the category and our industry, not to mention our collective reputations. We vote again on just keeping these two exceptional pieces as golds. It is just too early for VR to lead the way. The craft has a long way to go. The experience needs to be more inclusive.

 

After the struggle, and the respectful discussion on our choices, we review, debate and vote on our final Grand Prix contenders. When we’re done, there is a huge cheer and lots of hugging followed by champagne to celebrate.

Cheers to an inspirational jury. Amazing people. New friends.

We realize what we have just achieved. And in record time apparently. So we head out to celebrate.

Prelim celebrations.

 

L-r: Megan from New York, Dirk from Germany, Ignacio from Argentina, Bjorn from Sweden.
A few hours later, we all attend the press conference for the announcement of the 2016 Cyber Lions and the Innovation Lions.

 

At the Press conference. Smile…you’re on Chloe’s camera.

After the intro from Phil Thomas, the Cannes Lions CEO, Chloe Gottlieb, our jury President and a Grand Prix Winner herself, takes the mic along with the President of the Innovation Lions, apparently the ‘fun’ jury…

Chloe kicks off the press briefing with an update of the key trends.

With the new filters that the jury has defined over the past week, we think that the biggest ideas deliver on several levels.

Final category defining filter notes.

They are seamless in how they travel between the cyber or digital world and the real world, i.e., no clunky tech getting in the way of the storytelling.

They’re beautifully crafted and above all, the thinking and approach deliver magic in how they touch people’s lives and move us towards ideas, brands and causes.

We decided to award gold to ideas that are game changers. To achieve a Grand Prix the thinking has to be iconic, enduring, universally appealing and live seamlessly in whichever part of our connected world you experience it in.

The two Grands Prix are quite ‘amaaaaazzzzing’ as Ignacio, everyone’s favourite Argentine from Google, occasionally says.

Jurors with everyone’s favourite Argentine. L-R: Ignacio from Google Argentina, Fred from Mirum NYC, Ravi from Whyness India, Blak Labs Singapore

One of them showcases how tech and AI has helped create a new Rembrandt centuries after his death. It’s brave and beautifully crafted.

 http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/entry/754936/the-next-rembrandt

The other is the unbelievably charming story of Justino. He is the night security guard who engages the staff he never sees with simple beautiful stories and pranks told on Instagram and Facebook. The quality is Pixar-level, and the individual stories just make you laugh, cry and much more. (I am a huge fan, having followed Justino on his Instagram during the campaign.) ICYMI, it’s for El Gordo, the Spanish Lottery. Take a look http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/entry/756159/justino

The team behind Justino. They arrived earlier in the afternoon. So it could only be gold. Little did they know that we gave them the Grand Prix. Lovely bunch. And that’s the lovely Teresa from Shackleton in Madrid in the middle foreground.

This is where ‘Cyber’ has its true strengths. As a means to connect and unite people behind a single possibility over a variety of digital and ‘real world’ channels. Which of course is the point. The category has evolved so much that the best work is alive wherever you experience it.
We hope you’re happy with our votes. It was exhausting, exciting and eventually extremely rewarding. Thank you to my wonderful fellow jurors, thank you creativity and thank you Cannes Lions and Mediacorp.

And congrats to Team Singapore for winning the Young Cyber Lions!

 

 

Blak Labs does jury duty

Well hello Cannes. What a pleasure to be here. It’s my first time – so a quick thanks to MediaCorp for putting me forward to judge the CyberLions. And thanks to the organisers for the lovely welcome kit. The welcome drinks were welcome too as I caught up with my fellow juror from Spikes, Kazu from Japan. 
The preliminary judging has reduced our task…slightly. So far we have collectively viewed over 2800 pieces of work. Individually we have gone through more than 500 entries online during the prelim round a few weeks ago. We’re still in our judging groups, which means no one has seen everything yet.

In the jury room, the shortlisting takes place in silence, which is occasionally broken by snorts, giggles, guffaws and sighs.  We view the work on desktop workstations with earphones listening intently to the carefully crafted case studies…which by now are all beginning to blur into one.

It’s a bit like being in a call centre. Except we’re not solving customers problems…There’s absolutely no chance of help if your idea is woolly, your case study not sharp enough, your objective irrelevant, your results less than convincing.

At the breaks and meals, there’s a fair bit of discussion about what exactly we have just seen. Is it a data idea? Who makes microsites any more? Why? Where are the Asian entries?

Each day, Chloe our president and previous winner, captures a new set of filters which we will use to define this year’s CyberLions.

Every now and then jurors get the chance to check out new tech. One bunch went to try the VR experience from the movie the Martian. I got to have a virtual knock up with Marina Sharapova.


We’ve had a couple of lovely dinners. At the first, the waiter was superb. His description of veal as baby lamb had everyone stumped. He could be the French equivalent of Borat.


That’s it for the time being. Tomorrow we do a final cull of the shortlist, before we get down to the real business of awarding the Lions.

Quick shout out to my long-suffering wife and partners for looking after things back in Singapore @blaklabs while I do this. Love you all!

Blak Labs young bloods win NexGen Challenge at the Singapore Gong Show

Occasionally we win things at Blak Labs. Here’s some news from last night’s Creative Circle Awards. V Proud of our young guns!

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A young team from Blak Labs emerged as champions of the NexGen Challenge at the 2013 Singapore Creative Circle Awards.

NexGen is a 48-hour team challenge for young agency creatives to submit a digital pitch for a real life client jointly presented by Hyper Island and Singapore 4As, sponsored by MediaCorp, Official Media & Strategic Partner for Young Professionals Programme.

Out of dozens of entries from the country’s top agencies, the winning idea by Royston Ang, Regina Lee and Elon Law of local creative collective, Blak Labs, struck a chord with judges for the clever use technology to connect with consumers.

“MediaCorp is turning 50 and over the years, TV consumption habits have changed dramatically,” says Royston Ang, Art Director. “Young Singaporeans are watching programmes on their tablets or phones. TV is no longer a social activity but a solitary one.”

“We used technology to bring people together around their favourite TV shows,” explains Regina Lee, Digital Designer. “We’re delighted that this union of psychology and technology made an impact on the jury,” added Elon Law, Copywriter.

The team will each attend a weeklong lab of their choice at Hyper Island Singapore, the world’s leading digital training institute.

According to Joji Jacob, Group ECD, DDB Singapore, this year’s Chairman of the Gong Show and NextGen jury member, “The international jury was unanimous in picking the three top contenders for the NexGen Challenge. The three teams presented their ideas to MediaCorp’s senior marketing team. The team from Blak Labs impressed with a great idea and a brilliant presentation.”

“Blak Labs is committed to fostering the next generation of creative talent in Singapore. We’re thrilled that our young guns have risen to the challenge and delivered a truly robust idea for a live brief against the clock,” said Charlie Blower, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Blak Labs.

For more details, please contact Charlie Blower at charlie.blower@blaklabs.com

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